Discover more from Or So Ben Thought
Seeing is believing
Illusions, reconstructions and blueprints for sustainable living
Right then, where were we?
Seeing the World Through Your Eyes — building volumetric representations of what people are looking at. Yes, it’s a feasibility study, but how long until this tech is solving crimes?
These 10 winning images from Rest of World’s photography competition are a nice reminder that ‘tech’ is so much more than Vision Pro. The solar oven is alarming and the solar array is large.
The scale of the Milky Way — this Epic Spaceman video is very well done and a peak example of making big, scary things a little more understandable with relatable imagery. If the Milky Way were the size of the United States…our giant sun would easily fit within the ridges of a fingerprint.
One of the treats of Blighty (if you squint through the cascade of “Day After Tomorrow”-style apocalyptic vignettes) is being amidst such vibrant arts and culture.
Ah, Glastonbury Festival. A scorcher! We made moss balls, taught four-part harmony to festival-goers and QOTSA were amazing.
The Lehman Trilogy — there’s nothing like some historical perspective (and great storytelling) to sharpen ones analysis of the modern world. Fire burned the brothers’ cotton, so they sold seeds to farmers; their cotton dried up, so they moved onto coffee and tobacco; then trains and later cars; then came war and weapons, the atomic age and the biggest shift yet, away from materials towards trading words that represent value; credit, perpetual growth and ever-more complicated financial instruments to the point that even their CEOs were confused. The house of cards collapsed. We enjoyed the show. We went home. We checked our pension investments on a digital dashboard.
BBC Earth Experience — a little disappointing. Super expensive. Great sound design. I wrote some words (with videos) so you can see what they’re trying to do.
Side note: “This Climate Does Not Exist” is a predecessor in the same vein (no ideas are new, etc). but the project URL isn’t working so try the research blog for background on using AI to visualise climate futures.
Both concepts make unfathomable global issues more accessible. It’s curious that when the WWF concept pivots from attention-grabbing doom imagery (the old way) to hope (the new way!) their vision of wildflower meadows alongside skyscrapers also features the distinct contrails of passenger aircraft…
Anyway, these visual tactics are the hook but conversion is the tricky bit. Turning eyeballs into change-balls. The world needs action (and WWF want sign-ups). The ‘taking action’ bit has been super tough on the two climate projects I’m involved with. Organisations are afraid of being too political, too critical, too prescriptive. But our audience is telling us they want support, instruction, specific steps!
The design tension is bridging the gap between insignificant individual actions and inaccessible systemic change. Growing consensus points to building small, resilient, action-oriented communities. Zoe Scaman has a very impressive deck (mostly free) on the new ‘community’ hype-cycle.
Building community is ridiculously hard. The nicest model I’ve seen comes from Get Together: “Stoke the fire, fan the flames, pass the torch.” We’ve been collaborating with Story Things who, in our moments of panic, remind us that leaders will emerge, we just need to notice and support them.
One Army is a collective focused on global problems (e.g. plastic waste, fast fashion, redundant tech etc) Project Kamp is their gloriously honest effort to prototype (and open source!) a more sustainable way of living. The project, renovating an abandoned farm in Portugal, has >20m video views, >500k subscribers, >1,000 Patreons and hundreds of active members on Discord. This is the finest example I’ve seen of telling the story, building a community and enabling passionate community members to meaningfully contribute.
The fun bit
If thinking about climate change feels like fighting infinite adversaries, why not try this text adventure where you fight infinite, AI-generated adversaries? It’s fun!
Word Solitaire is good as well. One of those games that should have happened ages ago and whose aesthetic makes it look like it did.
Thank you for your eyeballs, tell me your thoughts.
Bye for now,
PS - On Thursday 13th July I’m sharing two years of research around teen engagement and climate change. In Autumn we’re launching the Critical Action Lab, a global network of cultural organisations supporting young people taking action in their communities. Get in touch or get tickets to Ecologies in Practice: Education, the Arts, and the Earth Crisis. £30 to attend online or in person at Goldsmith’s University.